There is an opportunity for men between the ages of 18-40 to explore the possibility of a vocation at a day-long ‘Monastic Experience’ with the Benedictine monks at Holy Cross Monastery in Rostrevor, Saturday 26 September, 10am – 6 pm.
The day includes an opportunity to meet and pray with the monks. There also will be time for reflection, community prayer, and Eucharist. If interested, please contact the monks on facebook, twitter (@rostrevormonks) or 028 4173 9979.
As some readers of this blog will know, I am a somewhat regular visitor to Holy Cross for silent retreats, either on my own or with groups of students. Once I gave a South African man who had been visiting the monastery – and considering a possible vocation to the Benedictines – a lift back to Belfast to catch his flight. Although he had decided monastic life wasn’t his calling, he had valued spending time with the monks and left with much to ponder.
Over the last seven years, as I conducted research for my forthcoming book, Transforming Post-Catholic Ireland, I spoke with a number of people who expressed concern at the dwindling numbers of priestly and religious vocations in Ireland.
Yet whenever I visit Holy Cross, I am struck that the monks pray faithfully for vocations. We may never have the numbers of priests and religious in Ireland as at the peak of so-called ‘holy Catholic Ireland,’ but people of faith continue to believe that there will be men and women called out for clerical life, in all our Christian traditions.
The Benedictines have recently revamped their website and it now includes a section on vocations. I quote a few excerpts below:
Is the Lord calling you to be a monk?
Perhaps having read the story of the Rostrevor Benedictines and having been afforded a little glimpse into daily life at the monastery some readers might find themselves asking the question: Could I be called to share in the life of this Benedictine community?
If you are asking yourself this question then we would say to you: Consider your call (1Cor 1:26), taking the Gospel for your guide (Rule of Benedict, Prologue 21).
The search for God
Saint Benedict asks of the one who presents himself at the door of the monastery: Does he truly seek God? (RB 58:8).
Of course, before any of us ever set ourselves to seek God, He is searching for us: Seeking his workman in a multitude of people, the Lord calls out to him: Is there anyone here who yearns for life and desires to see good days? If you hear this and your answer is ‘I do’ (RB Prologue 14-16), then maybe the Lord is calling you to monastic life and you should explore things further.
The monk’s search for God is fashioned by the gospel and is lived in response to the Lord’s call to live in communion with Him and with others in the bond of mutual love.
… There is no greater love than to give one’s life
The only way to understand monastic life is to see it for what it is essentially: participation in that unbounded generosity of Christ which led Him to give His life out of love.
The community at Rostrevor believe that a treasure has been confided to it which it is impelled to share with others. It is for this reason that it dares to promote its life with respect, with prayer and with the explicit invitation to others to accept the Lord’s call to engage themselves within it.
To any reader who feels that the Lord may be calling him we would say: if you hear God’s call, do not reject it! (John-Paul II VC 106)
And to those who are afraid of the cost involved in leaving all to follow Christ we would say: whoever follows after Christ, the perfect man, becomes himself more of a man. (Gaudium et Spes 41)
… A Community of Hope
As monks who were confided the mission to bring the grace of holy hope to Ireland we believe that Christ the hope of glory is in our midst.
Over long centuries in the ancient monastic Valley of Kilbroney, from the time when the ancient well of Bronagh was opened to the fresh springs of living water which now flow at Holy Cross, God has shown Himself faithful to His people. We believe that called who has us will remain faithful to His promise to make us take root be happy and prosper in the land to which He has guided us.
And so we dare to hope that others will be led and strengthened by God’s grace to give answer to the Risen Christ’s final question and ultimate call: Do you love me? … Follow me!
We call upon those who hear this call to join us on our pilgrim way.
“Do not be afraid! Open wide the doors for Christ! If we let Christ into our lives, we lose nothing, nothing, absolutely nothing of what makes life free, beautiful and great. No! Only in this friendship are the doors of life opened wide. Only in this friendship is the great potential of human existence truly revealed… Dear young people: do not be afraid of Christ! He takes nothing away and he gives you everything. When we give ourselves to him, we receive a hundredfold in return. Yes, open, open wide the doors to Christ - and you will find true life.”(Benedict XVI, Verbum Domini, n. 104)